It was a historic double for Hank McGregor and Lee Furby as they claimed a strong victory at the 2017 Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge as they repeated their 2016 triumph and at the same time claimed the South African doubles title.
The two-day race saw paddlers take on an out and back route from the Durban Underwater Club on Saturday and McGregor and Furby dominated from the outset as they went into the second day with a 20 second advantage.
Salt Rock’s surf, the finish venue of the second day, has been known to dish up a few late dramas and despite the fairly benign conditions at sea the shore break at Salt Rock claimed a fair few victims.
Having got themselves a solid advantage McGregor and Furby knew that they just had to consolidate on the second day. The finish on Sunday came down to an end sprint with the eventual race winners pipping Luke Nisbet and Steve Woods to consecutive stage wins.
“It is great to defend our Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge title,” Euro Steel’s McGregor said after the race.
“I am really happy with how we went and I am also really happy that I managed to retain my SA doubles title.”
McGregor’s partner Furby was the recipient of his first national title, and despite the prestige it was only a by-product of two days of strong racing.
“I never had a goal of winning a national title because it was never a possibility for me,” Furby mentioned.
“It was incredible to paddle behind an athlete like Hank and I don’t think that South African paddlers realise how good he is!
“We had a tough two days with very little help from the ocean but to take the title for a second year in the row is a great feeling.”
It was a solid performance from Luke Nisbet and Steve Woods who pushed the leaders for as long as possible but had to settle for second place over the two days of intense racing.
Pre-race hopefuls Wade Krieger and Matt Bouman would have been a threat to the McGregor/Furby machine, however Krieger had to team up with Tom Lovemore for the race and the pair paddled well together to finish fourth.
Rounding out the top five was Bailey de Fondaumiere and Gene Prato in third and then Tyron Maher and Clinton Cook finished in fifth place
There was only one all-ladies crew on the water and despite being entered with Nikki Russell, Jenna Ward completed the race with young Sabina Lawrie and the pair managed to finish fourteenth overall.
Brandon van der Walt teamed up with Kyeta Purchase in the only mixed team in the race and they put in a strong performance to finish tenth in just over four and a half hours.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2017 GARA DOLPHIN COAST CHALLENGE
1.Hank McGregor/Lee Furby 2:03:44.47 2:14:44.03 4:18:28.50
2.Steve Woods/Luke Nisbet 2:04:04.05 2:15:06.43 4:19:10.49
3.Gene Prato/Bailey de Fondaumiere 2:04:18.78 2:15:57.70 4:20:16.49
4.Thomas Lovemore/Wade Krieger 2:05:33.71 2:18:11.35 4:23:45.07
5.Tyron Maher/Clinton Cook 2:04:47.11 2:19:43.95 4:24:31.06
1.Jenna Ward/Sabina Lawrie 2:22:11.60 2:32:49.98 4:55:01.58
1.Brandon Van Der Walt/Kyeta Purchase 2:16:22.14 2:21:12.91 4:37:35.05